Discovery Tool Task Force Report: October, 2008
- Alec Sonsteby (Chair) – Concordia College
- Jennifer DeJonghe – Metropolitan State University
- Travis Dolence – Minnesota State University Moorhead
- Adam Marsnik – Normandale Community College
- Melissa Prescott – St. Cloud State University
- Evan Rusch – Minnesota State University, Mankato
- Al Rykhus – PALS
- Perry Madden (Facilitator) – PALS
The following is the Discovery Tool Task Force’s initial charge, dated January 19, 2007:
The Task Force will:
- Survey and assess available opportunities (and interests) in implementing discovery tools to enhance users' experience (including the pending prototype implementation of Primo at U of M);
- Investigate costs of acquisition, development, and maintenance;
- Recommend a course of action/s to be pursued by the Consortium of MnPALS Libraries for the benefits of its users (by a particular date);
- Implement and assess a prototype implementation (by a particular date); and
- Recommend appropriate improvements in the prototype and a path for future enhancements.
The goal should be to implement, in as short a time as possible and with full understanding and acceptance of costs by the consortium members, a discovery tool fulfilling the expectations of the wide variety of users found among members of the Consortium of MnPALS Libraries.
The task force has been meeting regularly since its inception in January, 2007, and, most recently, primarily by monthly conference call. A survey distributed to MnPALS member libraries in 2007 provided the initial direction to the task force and the PALS office. Members overwhelmingly desired an OPAC enhancement over all sorts of other discover tools. [i] The task force explored a number of options and settled on the open source VuFind product, which was demonstrated to the task force by the PALS staff. The PALS office launched this discovery tool in August 2008 and named it MnPALS Plus. An FAQ describes the tool’s functionality and benefits over the classic MnPALS OPAC interface and provides instructions for implementation. At least three schools are using MnPALS Plus to varying degrees: Concordia College, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and Metropolitan State University.
The PALS office recently implemented the interlibrary loan and hold functionality, but a number of components to the discovery tool are still in development, including:
- RefWorks functionality
- Advanced search functionality
- Fixing series links
- Add deletion of records to daily update
- Testing functionality of and, or, and not vs. AND, OR, NOT
- Similar items: if library selected, limit to library
- Word stemming documentation
- FAQ for patrons
Updates on these and other components may be found on the Task Force’s Forum. Member libraries are encouraged to submit their bug reports to the MnPALS Support Center and to share any ideas for enhancements to the task force.
The individual members of the task force have begun usability testing on MnPALS Plus at their institutions and will begin reporting their findings to the rest of task force and the PALS office soon.
The task force is currently looking at the future of their work. The 2007 survey also indicated that some institutions are interested in an OpenURL resolver and a federated search tool. The task force hopes to gauge consortium interest in these and other items now that MnPALS Plus has been launched. It may conduct another survey and may also seek new and different members, depending on its future directions. The PALS office has contracted for a reduced price on OCLC Link Manager, a commercial Open URL link resolver product, and continues to look into what it would take to set up and run CUFTS, an open source product that includes an Open URL link resolver piece.
Examples of discovery tools have been compiled by Keith Ewing and are available as a list at <http://wiki.mnpals.org/index.php/Discovery_Tools>